Observing Dissipative Topological Defects with Coupled Lasers
AbstractTopological defects have been observed and studied in a wide range of systems, such as cosmology, spin systems, cold atoms, and optics, as they are quenched across a phase transition into an ordered state. These defects limit the coherence of the system and its ability to approach a fully ordered state, so revealing their origin and control is becoming an increasingly important field of research. We observe dissipative topological defects in a one-dimensional ring of phased-locked lasers, and show how their formation is related to the Kibble-Zurek mechanism and is governed in a universal manner by two competing time scales. The ratio between these two time scales depends on the system parameters, and thus offers the possibility of enabling the system to dissipate to a fully ordered, defect-free state that can be exploited for solving hard computational problems in various fields.